Some time ago we announced Mir; a thin, efficient, multi form-factor display server that will form the foundation of Ubuntu moving forward across desktops, phones, tablets, and TVs.

Our goal has been clear that in Ubuntu 13.10 we will include Mir by default for cards that support it and fall back to X for cards that don’t (primarily those that require proprietary graphics drivers). In 14.04 we will deploy Mir but not provide the X fallback mode, and we are in active discussions with GPU manufacturers for them to support Mir in their drivers.

I wanted to provide an update on the progress we have been making with Mir.

Mir is in Ubuntu 13.10

The Mir team have been working hard to get Mir ready and in the archive ready for Feature Freeze on the 29th August. I am pleased to report that Mir is now available in the Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy archive and available for use.

Now, there are a few caveats here:

  • Multi-monitor support has not fully landed yet, as such you will only see mirrored displays and possibly some bugs. This support should land around the 22nd August. Keep up to date with the blueprint for this feature.
  • Although performance in Mir is very usable, the team are working on composite bypass support that will bring enhanced performance benefits. This should also land around the 22nd August.
  • Mir is naturally still under heavy development, so don’t consider it finished quite yet. 😉 The team will be focusing on bug-fixing and performance optimizations when the primary feature development is completed.

Good progress is being across all fronts with Mir and we are on track for our Ubuntu 13.10 commitment. As part of this work we have also been providing weekly Mir engineering updates as part of our Weekly Ubuntu Update videocast, so you can get a clear weekly idea of current status.

Mir in Ubuntu Touch

With the furious progress being made, we are expecting Mir to land in the daily Ubuntu Touch images in the next week. This means that those of you using Ubuntu Touch on your phones and tablets will have Mir running on your device soon. To get this, simply upgrade as normal.

Test Mir in Ubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Anyone is able to run the development version of Ubuntu 13.10 by installing the latest daily ISO and although Mir isn’t switched on by default yet, it is available you can test it by running:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mir-demos unity-system-compositor

Now to be clear: if Mir is working you should see no graphical difference from your normal system. Mir exists underneath your desktop environment, so you should just see your desktop as normal.

We are going to be kicking off a series of Mir testing campaigns in the coming weeks, but right now I would like to encourage you folks to install Mir and start your system as normal and test it is running with:

ps ax | grep "unity"

You should see a line with unity-system-compositor listed. If you see this you are running Mir! If you see this and your desktop works as normal, this is considered a success.

If you have a proprietary graphics driver (e.g. some Nvidia/ATI cards) and you run the above command and don’t see a unity-system-compositor entry then the system correctly fell back to X and this is considered a success.

If the system doesn’t display graphics or you see a line with unity-system-compositor and you see significant performance or tearing issues, this is considered a failure.

I created this wiki page to track how Mir works on different graphics cards. Please add your graphics card (if it isn’t already covered) and whether Mir was a success or failure.

If you do have problems with Mir and want to start a normal X server, simply edit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/10-unity-system-compositor.conf and comment out the second and third lines:


Now restart LightDM and you are good to go. Uncomment these lines to go back to Mir.

Mir Ecosystem

In the last few weeks we have been having some wonderful discussions with those who are actively interested in utilizing Mir. This has included:

  • Active discussions with the GPU manufacturors. These discussions are under NDA so unfortunately I cannot share more at this time, but the discussions are active and on-going.
  • Working with Xubuntu around testing XMir + Mir for their Ubuntu 13.10 release. The Xubuntu team have been awesome as usual to work with and are currently encouraging their community to test the latest ISO images available here. I would like to encourage Xubuntu folks to update the GPU wiki page I mentioned above as part of your testing.
  • We are working with flavors in general to encourage testing. We also encourage flavors to tag Mir bugs with flavormirbug so they appear in this bug search that the Mir team is using.
  • We have also been working with OEMs and ISVs around their needs with Mir and have had some useful and productive discussions. Again, these discussions have been largely private, but we hope to share more soon.

Overall, Mir is making steady and consistent progress, but we need your help to test. Keep your eyes peeled for a number of testing initiatives moving forward. Thanks!

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